Air pollution could be linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death, a study has found.
The research, carried out by University of Birmingham and funded by The Lullaby Trust, found evidence suggesting an association between SIDS and exposure to airborne pollutants: PM10 and nitrous dioxide (NO2). Other pollutants were not found to be associated with SIDS.
Researchers looked at levels of air pollution the day before a SIDS death and compared them to levels on a previous reference day. The study involved over 200 SIDS cases in the West Midlands, between 1996 and 2006.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the harmful effects of air pollution cause 3.7 million premature deaths each year. Children are more vulnerable than any other group and recent increases in fossil fuel emissions mean that understanding the effects of air pollution on child heath is more relevant than ever.
When it comes to what parents can do to reduce the effects of exposure to pollution on their child, the study’s authors draw attention to advice that suggests:
:: Staying indoors on days with higher levels of pollution
:: Cleaning systems for air in the home such as air purifiers.
You can find out the current level of air pollution in your region by heading to the Defra website; click a coloured area on the map to view information. The results are based on the maximum air quality index measured across all stations in each region. The colour code highlights whether the level is “low”, up to “very high”. Click here to find out what the pollution level is where you live.
:: Sleeping their baby on their back on a firm, flat surface
:: Ensuring the cot is clear and free of teddies and blankets
:: Not exposing them to secondhand cigarette smoke.
The study was published in the BMJ Open.